On This Day

Burma Separated from British India 82 Years Ago Today

By Wei Yan Aung 1 April 2019

Burma, which had been a province of British India since annexation in 1886, separated from India on this day in 1937.

The issue of separation from India had been a source of conflict within Myanmar’s political class since the 1920s, prompting local leaders to ask the British government to intervene.

The British separated the administration of Burma from India under the Burma Act 1935. It created 102 government departments to govern “Burma Proper”, of which 91 were headed by elected local ministers—a system later known as the 91-department administration.

Under this system, the legislature expanded to become a bicameral system consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The government was led by a governor appointed by the Crown, and a council of ministers, or cabinet.

As the most important person in the new administration, the governor wielded veto power, thus limiting the authority of the ministers and legislature. This prompted Doh Bamar Asiayone (the We Burmans Organization), which played an important role in the independence struggle, to oppose the administration.

The 91-department administration remained in effect until Japanese forces entered Burma in 1942.